A couple of things bother me though. First, the little hyperactive chipmunk is annoying at times. Then, the information on the graphic results is not immediately comprehended. Only after clicking around the screen, I could decipher the different symbols and colors that identified the flights. There is definitely a learning curve to take advantage of all the features in this app which I don’t think it should exist.


For international flights, you are talking about an entirely different situation. Much more critically than better food and drinks, first- and business-class seats in most international aircraft convert into beds that are actually pretty darn comfortable. On a flight back from Tokyo in first class a few years ago, I was actually disappointed when we began our final descent; when is the last time that happened in coach?
Number 2 is that you don’t even need to know where you want to go. Based solely on your fixed dates or a broad time period, the Explore option shows you where is cheapest to fly, which is a perfect tool for the early stages of your trips. I use it this feature a lot when planning a trip itinerary or choosing which hub city should I adopt in a multi-city trip.

If your plan for finding airline award space involves only relying on airline websites and phone agents, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Many sites lack the functionality and flexibility to show you every available award flight routing, and while phone agents work hard, many lack the required training on award booking rules, fare classes and airline partnerships necessary to find all available award flights. This can put an end to your quest to book flights with points and miles before it ever begins.
If you don't have access to a service such as Flight Alerts, check in with the airlines 24 hours prior to departure. If an upgrade is still unavailable at this point, check in online at the airline's Web site. Most airlines establish a waitlist for upgrades at the airport. Priority is usually given to those who have checked-in the earliest and with online check-in available 24 hours prior to departure; this will greatly increase your chances of getting that elusive upgrade.
Another important thing to remember is that you do not need to print your boarding pass at the time of online check-in. Many travelers make the mistake of waiting to check-in online until they have access to a printer. Check-in as close to the allowable time and pick up your boarding pass at the airport. With nearly every airline offering several electronic kiosks, gaining a boarding pass will take only a few minutes.
Setting up airfare alerts can definitely help save you money when booking flights, and luckily there are dozens of sites that offer such a service — but finding one that fits your preferences can be challenging. Here are ten sites that offer alerts to help you determine the right time to buy your tickets, alert you to new deals you might want to consider, allow tracking of a specific flight, and some that will even forecast price trends.

If I had to award a ‘peoples choice’ in this category, it would go to Hipmunk. It does almost as good a job of finding and tracking information on flights as Google Flights, but delivers it inside a better design, displayed according to the ‘agony factor’ of the flight (a combination of time in the air, departure and arrival times, cost and layover), in a beautiful interface.

You’re tired of economy class. Instead, you want to spend your flight relaxing in first class, soaking up the spacious seats and good food. While there are always going to be situations when first class is full and you’re just out of luck, there are also going to be plenty of opportunities to try to work your way to the front of the plane. Most of the time, the little things that go a long way.


I like Skyscanner.com because it has the open-ended “everywhere” option. You just type in your departure city (or general area such as your state) and in the destination box, you can select “everywhere.” What I don’t like about this option that it will only populate for departures from major cities. When I type in my airport, I have to click on each destination to get prices, a bit labor intensive. It does offer a nice map view of the entire world populated with the lowest-priced fares from any departure city. You can easily set up an alert for any combination of cities but not to “everywhere.”

Having a hip chipmunk find the best airfare may initially seem weird, but the Hipmunk app makes things super clear, with user-friendly charts that map your journey by price, time of day, airline, length of layover and even whether or not your aircraft has Wi-Fi. The app will also track flight prices and provide notifications when the best time to buy is. The “discover” feature offers deals on destinations like Canada or Mexico, and also offers inspiration like “beaches” or “outdoor.” Once you’ve booked a flight you can also reserve a hotel, too. This app is free to download.


If I had to award a ‘peoples choice’ in this category, it would go to Hipmunk. It does almost as good a job of finding and tracking information on flights as Google Flights, but delivers it inside a better design, displayed according to the ‘agony factor’ of the flight (a combination of time in the air, departure and arrival times, cost and layover), in a beautiful interface.


Upgrade Bid upgrades can only be applied once to the next higher class. Upgrades to Business Class are only available for Premium Economy Class passengers. However, for aircraft or routes without Premium Economy Class, you would be invited to upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class. No further upgrade by cash or miles will be honoured after an Upgrade Bid upgrade has been offered.
Today, with profits essentially non-existent, airlines are oftentimes not releasing Premium seating for flight upgrades until an hour (or even minutes) before the flight's departure, hoping to sell those seats at full cash value. Only at this point do the airlines release the empty (non-purchased) Premium seats to their frequent flyers who use miles to get the award or the flight upgrade. So it becomes a race among frequent travelers to position themselves to obtain one of the coveted few Premium seats. And everyone you speak with seems to have their own method and strategy for getting into position to take advantage of these hard to come by flight upgrades. 

If I want to use American miles to book a flight on Air Tahiti Nui — a partner some AA agents aren’t aware of — I’ll look up the flight availability on ExpertFlyer first. Once I find an available seat, I’ll call and ask an American agent for the specific flight and fare class I see on ExpertFlyer. If they cannot locate it, I’ll even use the airline’s two-character IATA code to help the agent find the flight I’m trying to book with miles (if you don’t know this code, see below; it’s included in the ExpertFlyer results).
Upgrade Bid upgrades can only be applied once to the next higher class. Upgrades to Business Class are only available for Premium Economy Class passengers. However, for aircraft or routes without Premium Economy Class, you would be invited to upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class. No further upgrade by cash or miles will be honoured after an Upgrade Bid upgrade has been offered.

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